Effect of maternal age, height, BMI and ethnicity on birth weight: An Italian multicenter study

Elena Spada, Giuseppe Chiossi, Alessandra Coscia, Francesca Monari, Fabio Facchinetti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


To assess the effect of maternal age, height, early pregnancy body mass index (BMI) and ethnicity on birth weight. A cross-sectional study was conducted on more than 42,000 newborns. Ethnicity was defined by maternal country of birth or, when missing (<0.6% of records), by citizenship. The effect of maternal characteristics on birth weight was evaluated with general linear models. Maternal height and BMI, although not age, significantly affected birth weight. Among Italian babies, 4.7% of newborns were classified as appropriate-for-gestational age (AGA) (birth weight between the 10 th and the 90 th centile) according to the country-specific Italian Neonatal Study (INeS) charts and were re-classified as either large-(LGA) (birth weight >90 th centile) or small-(SGA) (birth weight <10 th centile) for gestational age (GA) after adjustment for maternal characteristics. On the contrary, 1.6% of Italian newborns were classified as SGA or LGA according to the INeS charts and re-classified as AGA after adjustment. Maternal ethnicity had a significant impact on birth weight. Specifically, babies born to Senegalese mothers were the lightest, whilst babies born to Chinese mothers were the heaviest. Maternal height and early pregnancy BMI, should be considered in the evaluation of birth weight. The effect of ethnicity suggests the appropriateness of ethnic-specific charts. Further studies are necessary to determine if changes in birth weight classification, may translate into improved detection of subjects at risk of adverse outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1016-1021
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of perinatal medicine
Issue number9
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Birth weight
  • Customized charts
  • Fetal charts
  • Large-for-gestational age
  • Maternal BMI
  • Maternal age
  • Maternal ethnicity
  • Maternal height
  • Neonatal charts
  • Small-for-gestational age

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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